Celebrities including Chris Bisson (Shameless, East is East), Mo George (EastEnders), Tim Campbell (The Apprentice), Ashley Walters (Hustle) and many others took time out from their busy working schedules to attend the blood donor clinic in central London on Tuesday 20 November. The aim is to show how even busy people can spare the time to make a difference to other people’s lives.
The NBS needs to collect around 7000 blood donations every day just to maintain the supply of blood to hospitals across England and north Wales. Statistics show that only four per cent of the eligible population donate blood, and less than three per cent of the total number of donors are from ethnic minority backgrounds. This means that on average, just over 200 people from BME communities donate each day across England and north Wales.
Campaign ambassador Chris Bisson attended the blood donor session and commented: “I’m supporting the NBS by donating blood because I think it’s something really simple that most people can do. By just making a little time to donate blood, we can all help to make a difference to people’s lives, and you never know when you might need blood yourself.”
Zeeshan Asghar from the NBS added: “The issue most often mentioned by people as an obstacle to giving blood is their perception that they just don’t have the time. In reality, the whole process usually takes under an hour and we want to show that even with a hectic schedule you can still find the time to save a life.”
The campaign is aiming to increase the number of Black and Asian blood donors, to ensure when there is a need for blood or bone marrow, there is a matching type available. There are also health conditions prevalent within ethnic communities that need constant supplies of blood, like Sickle Cell Anaemia and Thalassaemia Major.
While any person can potentially give blood to help anyone with the same blood group, blood groups can vary by ethnicity. Within the ABO grouping system; blood group B is more common amongst black and Asian communities. The Duffy blood grouping system further identifies a number of antigens (sub-groups) that are even more common amongst ethnic minority groups. Patients who require regular transfusions will need very closely matched blood in order to prevent them making antibodies against antigens they do not posses themselves. Because of this it is crucial that blood donors from all black ethnic minority groups come forward to ensure the most appropriately matched blood can be provided.